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Aug 11, 2009 5:06 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Howard Dean stumps for national health care in East Hampton

Aug 11, 2009 5:06 PM

Former Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean’s whirlwind visit to East Hampton last Thursday and Friday was a rare chance for the public here to talk with a major political figure about the health care debate and the state of the newly resurgent national Democratic Party.

Dr. Dean, who is a medical doctor and an East Hampton native, first met with supporters at the home of Democracy for America activists Bonnie Maslin and Yehuda Nir in Springs on Thursday evening, along with his mother, Andrée Belden Maitland, and his brother, Jim Dean, who is the chairman of DFA, a political action committee that Howard Dean formed after his unsuccessful 2004 presidential bid.

Ms. Maslin, who introduced Dr. Dean with an almost tearful gratitude, credited him for bringing about a national sea change in favor of Democrats as a result of his strategy of working to strengthen party organizations in all 50 states.

“Not only did Howard give us hope in the time of our greatest despair, but after he was not able to be our presidential candidate, he took over the party and created an unwavering commitment to the 50-state strategy. No political office is too small,” she said.

“The whole purpose of DFA is about helping folks take responsibility over the political process,” said Jim Dean. “It is the stuff that makes the world go round. Seventy percent of our candidates are local.... We’re changing the way Democratic politics operates.”

As the sun set in front of him over Gardiner’s Bay, Dr. Dean first praised the youthful voters who volunteered their time and came to the polls in record numbers in the 2008 election.

“It’s just an earthquake,” he said. “It’s the first multicultural generation in history and it is an amazing generation. They view what we did in the ’60s as history.”

“We made a big mistake,” he said of his generation, which he said turned to the excesses of drugs and the counterculture, and then to the comfort of material success in the ’80s and ’90s when they saw little progress through the political process. “We exhausted ourselves and decided we could take a vacation from politics,” he said. “Being in politics is community activism. It’s investing in your society.”

Dr. Dean, whom President Obama replaced as head of the party with Virginia Governor Tim Kaine at the beginning of the year, has taken advantage of his respite from the public eye to write a new book, “Howard Dean’s Prescription for Real Health Care Reform.” He said that he believes Governor Kaine shares his commitment to the 50-state strategy, and said that he believes Democrats have a good chance to win Texas in the 2012 presidential race.

The bulk of his talk Thursday, and of his appearance at a book signing at BookHampton in East Hampton on Friday, was about the health care debate.

“Obama’s plan is the best plan I’ve seen, politically,” he said of the current health care bill, which he said had a greater chance of success than previous bills because it provides a choice for people who already have health care.

“Eighty percent of the American people have health insurance and 80 always beats 20 in a democracy,” he said. “We want to make sure nobody can be turned away and that they have health care that follows them everywhere. That is the public option.”

Dr. Dean said that 72 percent of Americans believe they should have a choice of health care plans. He added that the primary reason that the free market does not work in the area of health care is because the consumer finds it nearly impossible to direct his or her own course of treatment, and instead must rely on the health care providers, whose incentives are not always in patients’ best interest.

Dr. Dean said that he believes the opposition to the bill from conservative Democrats, the so called Blue Dogs, helped create a stronger bill that provides more health care options for small-business owners.

“I welcome the participation of the Blue Dogs,” he said. “They represent people who are real. The Democratic Party is a big tent.”

Dr. Dean said that he believes the bluster of the bill’s opponents, which has become more animated as members of Congress returned home to find angry crowds of anti-health care reform protesters at town hall meetings during the summer recess, will be just hot air before Democrats turn to a reconciliation bill in October that can pass in the Senate by a simple majority, with little opportunity for filibusters from the plan’s opponents. He said that he believes Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is in favor of a reconciliation bill.

“On October 15, their coach is going to become a pumpkin,” he said of the bill’s opponents, adding that he expects that the public option will be included in the final plan.

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Howard Dean was once a proponent of single payer and I hope he and other dems keep that goal in mind for down the road.
By dagdavid (646), southampton on Aug 11, 09 3:57 PM
howard dean is an irrelevent, socialist wannabe who will continue to move out of the politicial picture. his likeability numbers are as low as anyone that has ever held a public office, and fortunately for freedom loving americans, he would not be able to sway a starving child to eat candy. too bad he was fired as one of the first things the president did when he took office...i miss seeing this guy turn so many people off. you don't really want single payer dagdavid, you love your freedom and ...more
By hamptons surfer (79), southampton on Aug 12, 09 6:54 AM
Here are the take away points of the article: Dean does not have support of President, he things protesteres are hot air, and he thinks the democrates should and will use reconciliation tactic to jam plan down the throat of citizens who are clearly against it. He is aggressive, angry and downright incorrect. Reconciliation is reserved for budgetary votes to save gov't from ''shutting down'' and will not be used here...it would be a sure-fire way to tear this country to pieces. And just like ...more
By thetruthhurts (21), southampton on Aug 12, 09 7:02 AM
Has the Government ever run something better than the private sector?
By The Real World (368), southampton on Aug 12, 09 8:27 AM
real world should try breathing oxygen on planet earth. Administrative costs for both Medicare and Medicaide are significantly lower than private insurance compainies. Tthe VA and its government run nework of hospitals are very efficient. government runs drug testing at much lower rate than pharma compaineis, though I think we should start privatizing national defense so companies c ould make an even bigger profit & shareholders could take a cut. we could even let a cartel of oil companies buy ...more
By mo (89), Sag Harbor on Aug 17, 09 2:05 PM
If Medicare and Medicaide is so "perfect" why do they say it's a broken system. The problem is that the politicians cannot keep their paws off the money and continually raid it for social entitlements. Point 2. Obviously, defense of our country is one of the fundamental purposes of government. We don't want private militia's here and the mere thought of you comparing the two are scary enough. Last I checked, you still have a choice of where to by oil, and so does the pentagon..it's a bid process, ...more
By The Real World (368), southampton on Aug 17, 09 2:56 PM
Mo, you are oh so correct, people like realworld are completely out of touch and those screaming "socialism" would more than likely have an extremely difficult time actually explaining what socialism is.
By fcmcmann (417), Hampton Bays on Aug 19, 09 10:13 AM
It is amazing how many Americans will fight against their own best interests. Those opposed to health care reform really have no idea what it is they're fighting against. They rail against "government control" yet they have no problem with the CEO of United Health making $106,000.00 an hour? Do you know how me makes so much money? By denying claims. More often it is those who will benefit the most who are most susceptible to lies and misinformation.
By dagdavid (646), southampton on Aug 19, 09 11:12 AM
There is a difference between people wanting health care reform and THIS health care reform. Maybe if we went back to a system where we actually pay for services instead of a 10 dollar co-pay. Remember the 80/20 policies? Maybe limit outlandish claims to keep doctors malpractice at a reasonable amount. If government can't run the cash for clunkers properly, how do you expect them to run a healthcare system. As far as the socialism goes, this country was based upon entrepeneurs doing what was ...more
By The Real World (368), southampton on Aug 19, 09 1:06 PM
Yeah, let's allow those poor CEO's to make as much money as they can from cheating the American people and denying the claims of the terminally ill. Great idea. Thank God "The Real World" is not the one in which you live. You are most likely one of those people arguing against your own interests.
By fcmcmann (417), Hampton Bays on Aug 19, 09 7:41 PM
fcmcmann, you couldn't name a single example of a claim that has ever been denied for you or anyone you know.
By hamptons surfer (79), southampton on Aug 19, 09 8:58 PM
hamptons surfer, are you kidding? I have had family members and friends who have had claims denied because of what was deemed pre-existing conditions. There are thousands upon thousands of cases all over America. If you think it does not happen you need to turn off FOX news and start paying more attention. You can start here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vKI9be55N00&eurl=http%3A%2F%2Frebellenation.blogspot.com%2F2009%2F08%2Fdenied-claims-placed-at-health.html&feature=player_embedded
By fcmcmann (417), Hampton Bays on Aug 19, 09 10:19 PM
Again. Why the extreme. The health care system needs an overhaul. BUT in the private sector. Have you ever owned a company with government mandates? Have you ever SUPPLIED the health insurance to employees? I agree, insurance companies are out for one thing, turning a profit. Don't be foolish and thing that government isn't out for the same thing. The problem is, when they mismanage they raise taxes and there is no recourse.
By The Real World (368), southampton on Aug 20, 09 9:19 AM